My Notes and Rants

Hanlons Razor

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

Dunning-Kruger Effect

Basically : stupid people over estimate their abilities and don’t know they are stupid


This page is just a place for me to rant and comment.  Please let me know if you agree or disagree.  These comments are just my opinion and yours may differ.  Opinions and circumstances change, so I may occasionally update or change my comment.

One of my biggest Hates for a while – September 2021

Bloody web developers – what a bunch of %^%^%^%^%$%^ (censored).  E-commerce web sites like “The Warehouse” and media sites like “Stuff” here in New Zealand are terrible.  They link to so many dodgy external services that to buy anything online or view the news you need to disable all security and allow these services free access to your web browser and potentially your computer.

IMO: this is crappy lazy programming.  I don’t mind a web site collecting a bit of information or showing some adverts but not via external services that are the scum of the internet.  If anything goes wrong and my system is compromised or confidential information is lost – I’ll be pissed.

My Won’t Buy List

These are companies I will never buy from again or if possible use their product.  These companies are either just evil or are using bad law to screw their customers.

  • Google – now beats MS as most evil – avoid services – use Duckduckgo search
  • Microsoft – just evil in general, years of Windows problems, forced updates, dodgy business practices
  • HP – deliberately faulted printers running after-market ink
  • Lexmark – sued printer cartridge re-filler claiming copyright infringement
  • Plastikote – for a long time sold paint spray cans that easily blocked wasting most of the paint
  • DELL – ex-lease laptops – any DELL product due to power adapter and BIOS issues

Crappy Web Sites and Making Payment – Feb. 2022

An insurance company sent a premium notice with a link to make on-line payment.  Their web site required script permissions and then a popup to verify or approve credit-card payment, all for my security.  After allowing this popup it didn’t work and the whole process stopped.  So I left them a contact message.  Their suggestion was that I disable the security for the process or pay another way.  My reply:

Thanks for the reply.
I will pay via internet banking in a week or so.
Regarding allowing popups – I did for that tab but the function within the popup was still broken because the freedoms I had granted the first tab did not carry over to the popup.  We do not progressively bypass security until the job is done.
It’s not going to happen, that I disable network security to allow one occasional action.  “trust us, we know what we are doing” is not guarantee enough that nothing will happen to our network or data while your web site and associated services are given elevated access.
As can be seen by the businesses being crippled by attacks weekly, your IT experts are not that good.  There’s a reason for the contract terms that say “we’ll do our best but if the SHTF, you’re on your own”.
I’ve been paying for domains, hosting and many things for years without any of this complexity.  There are many web sites that include simple payment processes without adding hoops to jump through. The more hoops you have, the greater the risk in the long term.  Web sites that add complexity and pass basic function off to services are poorly created and add risk for their business and their customers.
Unfortunately in this modern world it’s easier to sign up for a service or “there’s an app for that”, now it’s someone else’s problem, at least until you get hacked or your data held to ransom.  I bet you’ve got insurance for that 🙂

The News Media and Responsibility


With all that is going on in the world at the moment I have noticed more than ever that the main-stream media is more “full of crap” than ever.  This got me wondering.  What responsibility will the media and their employees take to whatever goes wrong next with society?

It will be another headline, another story about how we reported bad information because we were tricked by {insert evil of the day here}.  We were just doing our jobs, it’s not our fault.  That we “copied and pasted” news stories is just the way it works now,  we didn’t have the resources to fact-check anything.

We are all buggered and the media is leading the way.  Most people can work it out if given enough information.  A problem now is that media needs headlines to get attention and the headlines don’t need to be accurate.  Many people don’t read below the headline and form their opinion based on the click-bait headline.  This opinion is reinforced by similar headlines in other media which is really just a reprint of the same source story.  There may be a snippet of truth below the headline but it’s generally well hidden.

For now, more information is available but not through the main-stream media.  For most people it is too difficult to find and too time consuming to review. 

NZ Building Industry – Low Cost Housing


There are many possibilities now for low-cost housing and I don’t mean the 15% off kits or pre-fabs that still cost an arm and a leg. Low cost housing benefits the people who need it but not the ones in control or the building industry.

It seems to me that what were sound building practices based on simple materials like timber, which is abundant here in New Zealand, are being replaced by over-priced manufactured materials and industrial grade sticky tape.

But as long as the value and growth of an economy is based on increasing property prices, governments such as here in NZ will only support an ever more expensive building industry.


October 2020: Trademe is a on-line auction-buy-sell web site here in New Zealand –  a mini Ebay.  It started off pretty well and became a very useful resource, especially when you need something quickly, within a few days.  But for a while now it has been turning to crap.

They now allow sellers in Australia, Europe and China to sell locally, which is not too much of a problem as long as you realize that delivery will be 2-8 weeks.  Far worse are the sellers claiming to be located in NZ but shipping goods from China – sometimes it is not clear.  These sellers are clogging Trademe with thousands of listings at highly inflated prices and slow delivery of many weeks.  If I am prepared to wait weeks for delivery, I will buy direct from China and pay 15-20% of the price the local scum-bags are charging.   It’s getting harder to find what I want in stock locally.

Trademe don’t care, it’s all just volume through the site and fees collected.  I had a look at the Trademe contact options – virtually impossible – obviously designed to minimize the feedback and complaints.  If nobody complains we must be doing a good job.

There’s a simple answer, use Trademe as little as possible.  Buy from local suppliers direct, visit their web sites, use email, go back through your Trademe email history to find the best suppliers and deal directly, bypassing Trademe.  If you can’t get it locally, chances are Trademe won’t be of any help so try Aliexpress, Ebay or if you must, Amazon – you will pay a lot less for the same delivery delays.  

What is Science

I have just read a news item that states that “people with anti-science views know less than they think”, relating to GMOs.  It is suggested that their thinking should be modified to fall into line.  But what is the main line – is it really scientific fact or the opinions of several “experts” being funded by big business such as Monsanto.  I suspect that true science is now corrupted and the real truth so clouded by business and profits.

But silly people thinking they know more than the do is the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  I suspect that people quickly develop an opinion and then use easily available public comment to reinforce that opinion, often rubbishing other ideas that may be equally or possibly more valid.

Unfortunately the internet and main-stream media can inform but are also powerful tools of misinformation.  The media in particular may have a great responsibility but is now a business, an advertising channel that needs ever more sensational headlines to survive.  The Internet presents a more varied view but presents so much opinion, much of it poorly presented, that it is too time consuming to seek out the most likely reality.

Climate science is another previously legitimate science that has been corrupted by business and tax collection – fuck the future.

DHL – a good web browser can be a nuisance

A comment more than a rant:

I send quite a few packages overseas mostly using NZ Post Courier, but the best delivery estimate they can provide is +/- several days to a week.  Occasionally I need to get a package somewhere before a certain date.  DHL provides a prompt and better defined service at a price.  I receive quite a few packages via DHL but seldom send via DHL.

So I needed to get a package from NZ to Australia within 3 days and decided to try DHL.  You can now book a shipment on-line. paying with a credit card and printing out the labels.  It sounds easy, and should be – but then you add web developers 🙁

The booking process for From, To and package details was reasonably simple.  The payment portion failed on Visa (could not verify something) by succeeded on Mastercard.  The final step provides an option to print documents but the instructions are not very clear.  So I decided yes and to preview.  A window pops up and a note about not navigating away – and that’s where it all stops –  waiting  waiting  waiting  waiting  cursing  cursing etc.  Finally giving up I thought it had all failed but later found 4 copies of a saved pdf containing a Shipment Receipt and what looks like two package labels.  The larger of the two a bit too large to fit on one side of the box.  Do they both go on the box ? – Why 2 labels ?

I also spent too much time watching Youtube videos by DHL on shipping and searching their web site looking for customs invoicing information.  Eventually finding that a commercial invoice could be created on the web site and printed from the browser.

This is probably easy if you do it often but is not very clear first time through.  NZ Post Express courier is easier and better presented on-line.

Browser issues:  the problem is probably that I use Firefox and keep it pretty well locked down and secure.  Most of these web sites like DHL are linked to all sorts of external security risks –  I mean services – and IMO overly complex.  If your web browser is not open and allowing these sites free reign you can get stuck.

When visiting a site like DHL for a specific purpose I turn off the security etc. for the duration, but this is not a guarantee of a smooth passage.

Web developers need to host the entire operation on one server and not use external services.  All documents to be printed should be emailed as pdf and shipment details should be accessible later based on a reference or AWB number.

Some say just use another browser.  But I am not risking my data etc. browsing the interwebs with a less secure system because of poor design of a few web sites.  It’s the same site design traps that make sites like DHL a problem that are exploited by scammers and blocked by Firefox with a couple of add-ons.

DELL Laptop issues

I have a couple of DELL D620 laptops, one that I use all the time running Linux.  When working these laptops are great and available 2nd hand at a good price, ex-lease.

There are a couple of problems that were deliberately created by DELL.

  1. the power adapter has an ID chip, a Dallas DS2501 containing some data that identifies the adapter as an original DELL product.  This means you can’t replace the original adapter with an after-market unit.  If you do, the laptop reports that the adapter cannot be identified, will run at reduced speed and not charge the battery.
  2. some BIOS functions are not available.  To gain access you need a code supplied by DELL that requires you to be the registered owner of the laptop.  In theory you can transfer ownership, but it didn’t seem to work for me – some issue with the original owner.

Only buy DELL if you are prepared to take a punt on being caught with a paperweight.

NZ Customs – Tax Collectors

I’m rapidly loosing what little respect I may have had for the NZ Government.

Partly my own fault for not gaming the system – I recently got caught on a package coming in from Australia valued at less than NZ$450 including courier shipping.  To collect about NZ$95 in tax (gst) I had to pay over NZ$150 in additional fees – just over NZ$250 in total.

This is nothing more than a tax added to tax collection, but they structure it in a complex way so that you don’t see it.  I don’t care what NZ Customs call themselves, they are a government department and any operational fee charged is simply another tax.

What if every business charged a $150 processing fee on every sale over $400 to do the paperwork and collect gst.  Considering government requirements forced on small businesses, this may not be unreasonable – although it would likely destroy many small businesses.

The solution at the moment for packages that are close to the limit is to break orders into smaller shipments.  If it was just the gst it wouldn’t be such a problem, but the tax collection fees they add make it well worth trying to beat the system.

Mozilla have wrecked Firefox

It is now late April-2018.  For years I used and considered Firefox to be the best browser, because it worked reasonably well and offered significant and as-far-as-could-be-determined honest and effective add-on protection against much of the spying, tracking and corruption that comes via adverts, scripts and cookies.  But with Version-57 came a change to the way add-ons fitted into FF and a few of the ones I relied on became obsolete (legacy).  Replacements eventually arrived.

So I held off updating past V56 for quite a while – until I thought the new add-ons had caught up.  Eventually I allowed the update to V59 and installed the new add-ons.  Since updating I’ve had ongoing problems with crashes and my original work-flow just no longer works.  There are many minor inconveniences that all add up and are just very annoying.  I have given it some time as I thought I would eventually get used to the changes.  Mostly I have adapted, but there are still a few minor annoyances.  The latest is a series of certificate issues blocking access with no apparent work-around.

Update Feb-2021:  Firefox is working reasonably well again.  I looked at Brave a while back as an alternative to Firefox but for Ubuntu Linux they are only offering it as a SNAP, so Brave is out of the running.  SNAP is a packaging system that can apparently include binary blocks of code which I won’t trust as well as messing with file systems and slowing the computer.  IMO Google is turning into another evil monster, joining Microsoft and Apple – so Chrome and Chromium are out.  I’m still using Kubuntu Linux and Firefox although considering Linux Mint.  No practical alternative to Firefox found yet.

2017 Election and Dumb-Arse Political Parties

We have a government election coming up and I received some junk mail from the Labour Party.  A card from our local Labour Candidate Chris Hipkins and a general Party flyer.  I am not opposed to receiving these, but I expect them to be honest and informative.

I’m not suggesting that Labour is the worst option.  I will probably vote Labour simply because they are not the other bastards who have been corrupting and selling off the future of New Zealand.

The card is asking for a party vote and offering – Affordable Housing, Quality Education and Safer Communities.  The flyer is similar but adds Free Education, Better Healthcare, Strong Regions and Clean Rivers.  The flyer is using the sex-sells approach with a picture of a young woman on the front, suggesting this somehow relates to “a better future for New Zealand”.

Lets consider each of the key points  –  a work in progress:

Affordable Homes

The government has no interest in reducing housing cost as it is significant in determining (fudging) economic growth.

Free Education

A complex problem.  Education is totally fucked and will cause serious problems in the future.  Dumb-arse kids being taught useless rubbish if anything at all.

Better Healthcare

Get rid of private healthcare and put all the money into the public system.  Don’t do any deals with the US that will damage the supply of affordable drugs.  Technology could revolutionize healthcare in the not too distant future.  Don’t sell it off or hand it over to private operators; healthcare is an essential part of New Zealands basic infrastructure.

Strong Regions – “To grow local jobs”

This just sounds like marketing wank.  There are too many Bull Shit jobs as it is.  We don’t need more people in the middle just increasing prices and complicating things.  To add jobs you must develop industries that produce a real product.

Clean Rivers

More marketing speak.  Rivers are being affected by land use and water draw-off for population centers.  Land use bordering waterways could be better managed to improve water quality.

More Police – Community Safety

More crime is not solved by adding more police.  What do you do with young and unemployed people roaming the streets and terrorizing shoppers.  Make them work for their living.  Why shouldn’t they get up at 6:00 AM to do full days work, planting trees, clearing scrub cleaning tagging off buildings etc.  If they are being paid to be unemployed, they can work for it.

It won’t Happen

Labour nor any other party will solve any of these problems because the solutions require a change in thinking and will upset some businesses along the way.  The parties will make suggestions and maybe the odd promise, but in the end nothing will really change.

Upper Hutt City Council – recycle bin incompetence

Update Feb-2021:  They now have a good recycling station in place – just in time to see a downturn in recycling because China no longer wants our rubbish.  My only grip is that they are not emptied often enough and are often full.

It’s now October 2020 and the crappy first attempt at recycling collection by UHCC has finally been replaced with a pretty good setup.

uhcc recycle bin24-June-2017: At the beginning of 2017 UHCC installed a public recycle bin on a 12 month trial, which was wanted and welcomed by a lot of residents.

Until 3-4 years ago UHCC provided Kerbside rubbish and recycle collection.  But the council decided it was better if residents paid directly for this in addition to the normal rates, so the service stopped and residents now have to pay a collection company.

The recycle bin was a great idea but was poorly implemented.  Some say planned to fail and I agree with this.

According to the local paper (Upper Hutt Leader 21-June-2017) the “Service’s future in question”.  It notes that the budget was $20,000, but it cost $41,000 and it will costs $67,000 to run for a year on limited days/hours open.  To be open daily would cost $170,000 per year.

The bins are too small, open only for limed hours, 3 days a week.  The council notes problems are – the time staff spend monitoring the station, operating cost and that the tonnage of recycles collected by the bins equals the drop off in curb-side recycling, therefore no new recycling.

The bins are located at the UHCC depot in Park Street and open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 7:30 AM to 8:00PM.

I have seldom seen the bins open and have often seen recycles piled up in front of the bins.

So, the council provided bins that cost too much, are too small and operate limited hours that are inconvenient to many residents.  It seems there is also some link to Waste Management.

Either this was planned to fail or the people behind it are incompetent.  A person or persons working for the UHCC planned and managed this project; of limited use and over twice the budget.  As a minimum they should be held responsible for a failed project and fired or reassigned.  If an outside contractor planned and managed the project, they should be responsible and not used again – although I wouldn’t mind betting the problems originated with the UHCC and their instruction.

Based on the Lower Hutt recycle bins this should have been a flat concrete area with a set of large bins that could be easily and quickly emptied into a standard collection truck.  But rather they used a customised shipping container divided into smaller sections and some fancy wooden steps to reach the lockable slots near the top.  If anything, the steps are a health and safety risk – may be part of the plan to fail.

UHCC City Operation Director Lachlan Wallach.

Kerbside Collection

The council web site notes “Council has a contract in place with Waste Management”. But UH residents pay collection companies directly, so what’s this contract – smells fishy.

Stupid Excessive Advertising

I was following a bus last week with a huge advert on the back.  Can’t remember what it was for – so that obviously worked.  I was thinking I should email them to let them know that the advert tells me to avoid their product.  It’s either very expensive or a crappy product marked up to reasonable product prices;  it must be to pay for the advertising.

I’ve been hoping for a while that companies would come to realize that excessive advertising is a waste of money.  Advertising is everywhere and in my opinion is mostly just overpriced clutter.  I’m keen to see what happens if add revenue dried up.  The internet would change, crappy web sites and bad news sites would be gone.  Advertising and marketing companies would have to do a really good job or fail.

I think I could live without Google, internet search results may then be based on website content value or interest.  I would probably be happy to pay for Youtube if all the crap went away.

Mercury Energy Web Site – Faulty ???

I have been having a bit of a discussion with Mercury Energy.  Not that I really expect to achieve anything talking to a help desk operator with a set of form letter replies.  My original complaint was that logging in to “MY Account” to view or download our power bill did not work correctly using my web browser (Firefox).

Clicking “view latest bill” causes a pdf file download.  This would be fine if it was actually my latest bill.  But it’s not, it’s apparently a 8 page pdf file containing a bunch of text html – some web page turned into a pdf file.

Having explained this a couple of times I received a email thanking me for my business and telling me “view a copy of your bill by logging into My Account”.  A bit disappointing, but not really unexpected.  These big companies are like ant colonies; activity all over the place and nobody really gives a shit as long as enough people pay up on time 🙂

On the rare occasion that I visit a web site that does not work correctly, I just leave, considering it to be not worth the effort.  Most web sites that are that complex seem to have weird things going on underneath, link to tons of other crap, are created using some weird development tools or the developers should be looking for other careers.

I have been using Firefox for years, latest version all patched and up to date.  There have been a couple of minor annoyances, but generally I like it, know how to use it and consider it provides better security and privacy than the other popular browsers.  It is currently my only browser and I’m not changing because of some broken web site.

To view the Mercury web site I turned off advert and script blocking, but the site still does not render correctly and does not provide access to my power bills.

As it is very unusual to find a web site faulty like this, I conclude that it is a fault with the site.  Something is non-standard or incompatible.  I think it’s time to look for another power provider.

BTW: as a quick test I tried two other older browsers.  One rendered the site much worse than Firefox did, and the second one crashed after scrolling the page up and down a bit 🙂

Scare Tactics to Sell Product

I don’t like companies that suggest that if you buy anything cheaper than their product your world will go up in flames.  These companies are usually more expensive and do not have a better way to market their product.  They are likely selling a standard product at a higher price and don’t have a legitimate reason that you should not buy cheaper.

These days, cost is more a function of supply and demand, and marketing than a true indication of quality.

I noticed a solar installer recently stating  “If you ask a professional to do the job you will get a professional job done“.  These days, professional just means you paid to have it done; it does not mean the job was done correctly, to a high standard or with acceptable quality materials.  This applies to all fields –  solar, automotive, building and related trades – anything you can pay to have done.

They also suggested that buying cheaper could produce a dangerous installation.  I disagree that cheaper is inherently more dangerous,  but their main point was that lack of knowledge was dangerous – and I agree with this.

It’s not just the solar installation field that is a problem, but it is electrical in general.  It is now much more complex than it was 30 years ago and electricians need to stay technically capable to be able to correctly and safely handle the increasing array of equipment and applications.

As they point out DC is potentially more dangerous than AC and must be managed with appropriate equipment and forethought. I think few general electricians have this knowledge or experience.

Note: They demonstrate a 32A AC breaker failing and burning when interrupting 6A from solar panels.  They do not mention the voltage used in the test.  Basically – AC reverses the current flow as part of it’s normal operation – AC means “Alternating Current”.  DC does not reverse and therefore does not self extinguish the arc that is drawn out when breaking the circuit.  If the gap is not large enough, current will continue to flow through the arc, generating a lot of heat and as seen, burning the switch or circuit breaker.  DC switches and breakers are designed to handle this problem.  This is why AC beat out DC for general household electrical.

Mega.NZ – November 2016

I was just looking at assembling a laser engraver kit I bought from Banggood a few months back. So I tried to download the instructions and software that Banggood have made available on …. or rather unavailable.

Mega is a horrible site with epilepsy inducing animations on each side of the download screen and a browser download option that goes through downloading and decrypting only to fail on saving.

I’m not interested in signing up for an account or installing sync or file managers or special browser plugins. I just want two files.

I tried a couple of other browsers that I use on the infrequent occasions that Firefox fails. Mega went through the download process then popped up a message saying one was not compatible with Mega, and wouldn’t even try with the other.

No I don’t and won’t use Chrome or any other browser because some idiot non-standard web site requires it.

Any sympathy I had for has now gone and he owes me at least 45 minutes 🙁

Update November-2016

A friend managed to download the 170MB file from Mega for me.  I also advised Banggood that I thought Mega was a bad choice for distributing these files and why.  The laser engraver is now working.

NZ Couriers – September 2016

Service is declining and prices are always increasing.

We are now told by Post Haste Couriers that to be sure of a pick-up and therefore overnight delivery we should book pick-up before 2:30 in the afternoon, and phone them to make sure.  Because most of what we send within New Zealand is manufactured or prepared and packed on the day of shipping, this means that we have to have the days work done by 2:30 PM to be sure of a courier Pick-up.

The only solution for us is to send urgent packages using the NZ Post Courier by taking them to the local NZ Post Shop, where they have a later cut-off time.

The negatives are that I have to make a trip out and have to relabel a bag.  A positive could be that by switching all shipping to NZ Post I wouldn’t have to buy books of courier tickets in advance.  A second positive could be the exercise gained by walking the 2KM round trip – in good weather.

Update September-2016

Post Haste have advised that failed pickups were due to a problem with on-line bookings being delayed by Spark.  Spark are that telecom provider formerly known as Telecom, who changed their name to escape a well earned bad reputation.

Well Post Haste, that’s what happens when you put everything out to contract.

Update November-2016

Since talking to Post Haste, their pickup reliability has improved.  I am still taking last-minute, urgent and South Island packages to the local Post Shop.

Update July 2017

Service had improved, but I fucked up.  As soon as the rushed package was ready I booked a pickup just after 3:00pm on the 29th expecting it to be in Auckland the next day – the last day of the month.  But the pickup did not happen and we have missed delivery before the end of month.

I am angry with myself for trusting Post Haste when I should have taken the package to the NZ Post Shop before it was too late.

Update July 2018

The July-2017 incident has occurred a couple of times since then so over the past several months I have been moving over from Post Haste to NZ Post.  The disadvantage is that I have to visit the Post Shop to use post-bags with courier upgrade tickets, the advantages are that I have purchased bags and tickets so I just drop off and last call is 4:30 PM or later.  The cost is about the same and I’m not constantly seeing add-on charges that Post Haste keep sneaking in.  I have a few Post Haste bags and local-tickets left to use on non-urgent packages but will probably not order any more.

Update February 2021

I am still using NZ Post and the service has been very good.  I have recently switched to booking on-line and having the packages picked up.  This works for local and international packages.  The on-line booking provides labels I print and attach to the package which saves some more time, especially since the international customs labeling got so much more complex.  It seems that the NZ Post courier will pick up as later than Post Haste but I try to get packages ready and booked by 2:30.

HP – never buy list – Sept-2016

I have added HP to my short list of manufacturers to never buy from.

It looks like HP have a little problem brewing.  In September 2016 it was reported that 13 thousands  HP printers started showing error messages and stopped working.  Either it’s a firmware bug or it seems more likely the printers know when you use non-HP ink and have a end-of-life date built in.  Even printers that are not connected to the internet are failing, suggesting it is a planned inbuilt feature rather than an accident.

Effectively HP is sabotaging printers when you don’t use their ink.

They have now released a optional firmware update that allows 3rd party ink.  I’m sure they are sorry about this and it was a actually the work of a rogue agent planted in the factory by a competitor.  But seriously, you’d have to be a moron to trust a company that would do this sort of thing.

We all know that printer manufacturers are ripping us off on consumables, but to sell a product that is designed to fail if you don’t use their over-priced ink is too dishonest.


We are beginning to hear a lot of whining about ad-blockers. I run all the ad-blocking I can.

It’s not advertising that’s a problem it’s the business of advert delivery.

I like to see relevant adverts. When I buy a magazine, Silicon Chip or The Shed, it is partly for the adverts, they increase the value of that type of publication.

But on-line I will not accept adverts that pop-up, are animated, flash or make noises, affect my computer or browser or persist longer than the page they arrived with.  I will accept adverts that mimic newspaper or magazine ads.

The Problem

IMO, is that media and low-value web sites (now a large portion of the web) sell space on their pages to advert delivery specialists who have been growing more intrusive and less relevant.

Visiting a main-stream web site now usually has your browser drawing in adverts, trackers and cheats that you don’t see from many specialist tracking and advertising servers. There is more data bandwidth consumed in this than in the actual web site content, and most of the loading delays are waiting for these servers. They want to store more cookies and info on my computer, and a faster computer is needed.

I use script and ad blockers to block trackers, bulk rubbish adverts, social media connections, analytics and any malicious crap that may come with these. If I could block the bad but allow the good, I would. It would only take one malicious attack to get through to completely ruin a huge amount of work. And if I have to block every advert on the web because of the slightest chance, I will.

My ad-blockers can’t tell the good from the bad, and I don’t trust them to make that decision. A web site that won’t let me visit without allowing all the adds and “extras” is probably not worth the visit and possibly up to no good. The legit advert industry is crying no-fair, but they have shot themselves in the foot; no sympathy here.

The solution

Is for web sites to serve their own adverts, the way it used to be. Adverts would be an image and/or block of text that was part of a page from the same server, specifically approved by the site manager. IMO, this maintains relevance and there is a much better chance that the advert is not malicious. It also means that add-blockers have no effect.

This would be the end of the huge specialist advert delivery industry. It will clean up the web and remove sites that live off crappy advertising. I see it as a major step forward. A cleaner web will be much more useful.

Update March-2016

UK culture secretary John Whittingdale has announced a “round-table” to discuss add-blocking, suggesting that white-lists are a modern day protection racket and that if people don’t pay for content, then that content will eventually no longer exist.

I agree that white-lists are bad. But I also think that if content ceases to exist, then it was not worth having in the first place. – October 2016

A site I visit often referred to an article on, so I went to have a look.  Up came a page with quote of the day and a complaint about my ad-blocking.  Because I was interested, I restarted Firefox and disabled script and advert blocking. But it just kept complaining.

So I tried another browser, one that I use only occasionally which has nothing blocked.  This time the page loaded, two side columns and the article in the center.  But that’s not all; the side columns kept changing, the article kept vanishing and reloading and some broken audio was trying to get through – aliens I think.  Then the browser completely disappeared being replaced by a message – “oops it crashed, would you like to restart the browser” – hell no.

So I didn’t get to read the article and lost interest after 15 minutes of trying.  My conclusion is that my script and advert blocking is well worthwhile, and as a bonus keeps me away from these poorly presented web sites that wrap little bits of information in tons of shit.

Cellphones and Service Providers SUCK

I’m getting fed up with my Android phone. I want a phone that is simple to use, functional and lasts a long time on one charge.

To all you people who say it’s easy and I should just learn how to use it, I say, not interested, forget it. I don’t spend hours every week playing with my phone and I’m not going to dedicate a significant time to learning about and maintaining a poorly designed system that has been forced on us by marketing and advertising dicks.

It does run a few Apps that are quite useful:

  • one or two multirotor support apps
  • a gps tracker/recorder for when we go walking
  • wifi analyser
  • GPS monitor

As a phone it has too many features and is too difficult to use. The contacts list could be quite useful, but having migrated from earlier phones, it is a mess, with missing information and duplicate entries. The contacts manager is an App; overly complicated and poor for such a basic task.

Service Providers Suck

They are not really service providers any more. They cannot be easily contacted (unless you want to pay them more) and their service is crap. Their web sites are overly complex adverts, difficult to use and don’t provide useful information. The product plans are aimed at kids wanting Facebook data and 50,000 texts per month.

I wonder if in the future these service providers will be held responsible for dumbing down society as cigarette companies have been blamed for health problems. We can only hope.

Android Sucks

I’m sure it’s up to no good. Between Android and the Apps it is collecting and reporting far more information that it should be. The vast majority of my data traffic is not MY data traffic. This costs me data and is probably the main reason battery life is short.

Some times after charging overnight, the battery will last several days, other times it doesn’t last a day. I suspect this is due to bad Android hidden activity and bad app behaviour. When you have finished with an app, it doesn’t shut down, but just hovers around in the background.

I like the basic concept behind Android, a open-source (well almost) operating system based on Linux that standardizes across a lot of manufacturers and phones. In practise, I suspect there are many variations between manufacturers that complicate things; ie. cameras and other peripherals. This makes Android updates difficult and many manufacturers don’t bother.

Android on anything other than a cell phone is just a stupid idea. A device connected to a 40″ screen with keyboard and mouse still thinks it’s a cell phone with 3″ touch screen. But that’s another rant.

What are the alternatives ?

At the moment there are no good alternatives. I could use a tablet to run the Apps I like, but tablets are large, inconvenient and still crippled by Android and short battery life.

It’s not even possible to get a basic “just a phone” now. The smallest and cheapest phones still have colour graphic screens and built in Apps. They are simply a more proprietary version of a slightly stripped out smart-phone.

What would be ideal

I’d quite like to see a pure Linux phone. Something that runs a Debian distro, entirely open source and able to replace the Android install on low-cost Chinese phone hardware. This would make a great App platform, but not a good phone. It would have wifi and could connect to a simpler phone providing a data connection.

The small simple phone would be functionally similar to a phone of 15-20 years ago, but built using current technology and a good battery. This should provide a good basic phone with a 2 month battery life.

Useful features would be:

  • large battery capacity
  • simple mono (black and white) LCD
  • simple push-button keyboard
  • standard micro USB connector for charging and data connect
  • contacts import/export in a simple delimited file format
  • hot-spot capability for internet connecting other devices occasionally
  • connection only as authorized for data or updates (cell/wifi)

What it must not have or do:

  • no additional apps or games
  • no colour and no graphics
  • no touch screen

Telecom name change to Spark – Cost ?

  • Why have they changed their name?
  • What’s it costing to change their name to Spark?
  • Rather – what’s it costing their customers?
  • Think of all the product, shops, advertising, paperwork, etc. that must be changed.

About the time Telecom changed their name, our contract period with Telecom ended. Rather than carry on or renew, I decided that I wasn’t going to be paying for the name change and we switched back to Vodafone for internet and phone. This actually gave us a speed upgrade and unlimited data for slightly less per month than we were paying Telecom.

Vodafone Internet Home-Phone and Cell-Phone

Vodafone is still not ideal: I have a contract cell phone plan with Vodafone and they are supposed to give us $10/month off the home internet/phone connection. But after trying twice to get this implemented, I still don’t know if it has been. I suspect the paperwork they provide is deliberately complex and confusing so that people just assume it’s correct and over-pay.  If I could get a fixed IP included in the standard price, I would seriously consider connecting to the new UFB (ultra fast broadband) fibre and dropping the cable. Vodafone FYI ***-440-208.

Update November-2016

I needed a smaller SIM for a new cellphone, and as we don’t have a Vodafone shop nearby I looked at their web site.  A bit of mess of advertising and little easy to find info. so I left them a message.  They phoned offering a new SIM and since I mentioned it a plan review.  It seems I was on a older plan and getting about 1/3 of the minutes and data I should have been getting for the price paid.

The problem is that service providers do not automatically offer or update your plan to their latest best deals.  The moral of this story is that you need to regularly review it yourself and ask for the new deal.  If you don’t like waiting on hold to speak to someone, just send them a email or written contact through their web site and they will call you; especially if you point out that their competition is also offering a better deal.

Update June 2017 – fibre to the house

Chorus, the lines provider is running UFB fibre to the house.  Our neighbour is switching from Vodafone Cable to Fibre and they needed permission to trench the garden beside our driveway.  It’s a simple matter to bring a fibre to a outside junction point on the outside wall of our place at the same time.

Smart Power Meters

1. What does this mean?

From this web site of : Here.


For the first two years after your meter is installed you will be charged at the lower of your ‘profile’ load or your actual load, provided your load is less than 100 KVA.  Your next year’s load is calculated as the average of your load across the six highest two hour blocks this year.  The new meters can perform these calculations automatically within the meter.

2. Some of the screens on the smart meter

  • 24H – is total power consumption (should equal day plus nite)
  • Day is the number of units used from 6am to midnight
  • Nite is the number of units used between midnight and 6am
  • Time and Date – should be the current date and time
  • LDAV – this is the load level you have earned so far this year. If it does not change, this will be the load level we will use when we reset your charges the next April.
  • LDNU – this is your load level at the moment.